PlatoonAFI Rank: #83
Year Released: 1986
Director: Oliver Stone
Actors: Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe
It's amazing to watch Apocalypse Now and Platoon back to back, to see views of the Vietnam War separated by a decade. We have the older and younger Sheen, both playing protagonists who immerse themselves in the convoluted morals of the war and come out changed. In Platoon, well worthy of its #83 ranking in the AFI Top 100 listing, Charlie Sheen is a volunteer who goes into the Vietnam War with high ethics. He feels he must do his part to support his country. After a short while he realizes just what he has gotten himself into.
While some movies about Vietnam almost feel like the spoof Tropic Thunder, here we have a view as seen by people who had been there. Charlie is pitted between two veterans - Berenger and Dafoe - one dark and brutal, the other a "crusader" who still believes in doing the right thing. I've seen this movie numerous times and every time I get swept up in the emotion of the events, the pain and chaos and despair felt by the men.
It's no wonder veterans of war come back with traumas to their psyche even if their bodies are untouched. To see these kinds of things, and have to make these kinds of choices, has got to affect your mind.
Certainly Platoon is about one specific war, but its underlying tale is about any conflict, faced by people of any nation, of any color, male and female. Anybody who heads into Iraq, into Afghanistan, into any other conflict zone, knows what this is about. They know the life or death decisions that have to be made. They feel the pain of calling an airstrike in on your own position.
Absolutely a must watch movie, and one to revisit as you go on through life. Each viewing, at each stage, brings you fresh insight into the challenges faced.
If I am going to have any complaint at all, it is that it praises the "men" of the Vietnam war, and not a single female is seen throughout the entire movie, besides the Vietnamese woman who is raped and the villager who is shot. There were many women who served in Vietnam. It would be one thing if we had just as many movies that were all-female. But we don't. We only have movies that are all-male, and then movies which are mostly-male, in the AFI top 100. If it were one or two all-male movies, that would be one thing. But to see movie after movie after movie that are 100% male makes me start to wonder what the male directors think of our world.
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AFI Top 100 Film Listing
Male vs Female Actors in the AFI Top 100
The Bechdel Test in the AFI Top 100